A Bittersweet Life

Reviewed by: lord_jedi

July 27, 2007

Rating: four-point-five


Kim Sun Woo is a mob enforcer who managed his mob boss’s restaurant. He is confident, talented, quiet, and a very cold person. One day, his boss asked him to watch over his mistress, Hee Soo when he is out of town. Sun Woo followed his order but he made one mistake when he hide the fact that Hee Soo had an affair and try to cover it believing that it is the best thing to do. But his boss later found out about it and this is when Sun Woo’s life started to turn upside down. He was tortured and his boss demanded to know the real reason for him for not telling him the truth. But Sun Woo managed to escape and his quest to take revenge begins...


Lee Byung Hun as Kim Sun Woo
Kim Young Cheol as Mr. Kang (Mob Boss)
Shin Min Ah as Hee Soo
Hwang Jeon Min as President Baek
Kim Roi Ha as Mun Suk
Eric Mun as Gun dealer's brother

The movie started of with the main character, Sun Woo recites this narration:
One late autumn night, the disciple awoke crying. So the master asked the disciple, “Did you have a nightmare?"
"Did you have a sad dream?"
"No", said the disciple. "I had a sweet dream."
"Then why are you crying so sadly?"
The disciple wiped his tears away and quietly answered, “Because the dream I had can’t come true."
The opening scene had captured my intention with the conversation between the discipline and it’s master. The director made a fine decision with the opening scene; leaving the audience a glimpse to what the movie is really about.

This movie is one of my favorites. It is also one of the most quality Korean movies that you can find around. It is interesting, adventurous, engaging, brilliant, and not to mention powerful. The fighting scenes are really excellent and real. I enjoyed it very much and remind me back why I used to enjoy kung-fu type of movies long ago. Having watched many Hollywood fighting movies, I lost the interest in watching anymore of it but this movie show me how beautiful and artful fighting scenes can be. I admire Lee Byung Hun for fighting so wonderfully in this movie. His high kicks, his punch, his flexible body are really a delight to watch.

Other than the movie excellent fighting scene, the storyline are also really interesting. How the story begins showing Sun Woo eating his ice-cream, how he handle troublesome guests in his boss’s restaurant, how he stay with Hee Soo to watch her, and how he fight all the bad guys in the warehouse, and how he takes revenge to his boss are really thrilling that keep you on your seat for two whole hours.

Watching the movie makes you really tired since you can feel how tired Sun Woo must be for all he things that happen to him. First, he was tortured, this scene is really engaging since you can see the fear in Sun Woo’s face when the man wants to cut his body. He vomited and it was really a torture to see his body hanging to the ceiling. Right after that, in a raining night, his finger was cut. And in the same night also, he had to fight tons of guys in the warehouse before he managed to escape. The next day, he already plans revenge to his boss. All the events that happen to him is so sudden and it makes you really feel tired for him.

I also really like the scene where his asked his boss why his boss did this to him. He has served for seven years like a dog to him, why he did this to him? That scene is really powerful since Byung Hun doing it with tears in his eyes. You can really feel for him. You can understand the betrayal feeling that he feels at that time. How disappointed and sad he is for being treated like that after serving loyally to his boss for so long.

Lee Byung Hun excellently plays Sun Woo. He is charming and he played this role flawlessly. Having watched him in ‘Addicted’ where he show to us how far one is willing to do for love, his role in ‘A Bittersweet Life’ is totally different but he managed to pull it off. He showed to us his charisma and how focus he is as an actor. This movie has amazing storyline and script and having Byung Hun as the lead actor is like the movie has found the last piece of it’s missing puzzle.

Overall, this movie is really entertaining and it will leave you satisfied after watching it. And the end scene will leave you questioning what’s really happen to Sun Woo. It showed Sun Woo shadow boxing in front of a window. Was all that happen to him is only a fantasy that he imagine? Was it a dream? Was it the image of him before all the things that happen? The director gives room for the audience to make the conclusion. Actually, in special edition DVD of the movie, the director explained that the scene was filmed to show that essentially Sun Woo was fighting himself more than anyone else, and to show the happiest, sweetest moments in his life. It was a nice way to end this amazing movie. My advice; watch this movie, and you will glad that you did.

Rating: 4 and a half stars out of 5.

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